Questions about making leaf mold

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I've been taking advantage of the bags full of leaves in everyone's yards and collecting them. This weekend I will make a large pile of leaves that I plan to let sit to break down. I still gotta do some reading about it, but I wanted to start a thread to get your guys input.

Should I leave them in the brown paper bags their in? The way I understand it is its more of a fungaly driven process and maybe doesn't need the oxygen that regular compost needs. So maybe they'd be better left in the bags?

I don't have a way to chop them up bc my mower is down atm. I thought about a bin and my weed whacker but that seems like a lot of work. Unless it's very important they get chopped up I'll just leave them whole. Is it important? I'm not in too big a rush, I'm really just preparing stuff for the future. I've only got 2 5x10 garden plots so far. But I've got a lot of space to expand!

It seems pretty simple, but any info or advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Never bother shredding ours, there are too many stones from the drive etc mixed up with them. Plastic bags with holes are probably better than paper which will rot away pretty quickly.
All I do is to pile the leaves up in my compost heap, trample them down .soak and forget them.
 

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I've been taking advantage of the bags full of leaves in everyone's yards and collecting them. ...

Good for you!! Terrific source of organic materials for soil building. I definitely like to mulch them with a mower before composting but you can certainly do it without.

Here's some reading that offers some very good tips on composting them.

 
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2 main points are water and air. Wet the ground, add a layer of leaves about 6 inches and wet that, add another and wet that and so on. The work of turning can be eased by the use of cheap thinwall pvc pipe or the black abs perforated drainage pipe under the pile through the middle for oxygen. The process is oxidation oriented and so needs oxygen. A pile needs to be about a cubic yard to get hot, but smaller ones will rot down cold. They are never that sanitary anyway unless you really get the temps up. Even so 140 is pasteurized and only big piles can get close.

A cubic yard of compost will take many times that size in full size leaves to start. It will really shrink a lot. Ambient air temps are your friend, cold is slower unless the pile is big enough to heat up as the various waves of bacteria move through it. As to fungal and this and that, no worries as the leaves are food enough for the bacteria to start since all the plant goodies are in the leaves and the bark. Just make sure you serve something to drink with their meal. You can loosely cover it if its real cold to try and trap heat from leaving up top.

Sometimes I get a small pile that goes cold. Maybe I used some or certain times of year there is not as much material dropping from the trees and plants. I have been known to mix a gallon of ammonia into a 5 gallon bucket of water and boost the pile with it. Farmers ammonia without water is NH3. Mixed with water it becomes NH4OH (Because H2O+NH3). Everything is used. You brought the leaves (C) So there is the start, COH the primary nutrients. Ammonia is a little more than 80% N so it can burn or stop a pile from heating if too strong. The N is used by the biodome as it consumes the leaves into compost. Likewise sugar is also useful as a booster. It has a formula too, but no N. I use it sometimes when I have a lot of green like grass clippings and low carbon.
 
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NigelJ

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I use builders dumpy bags with a sheet of cardboard over the top, stick them behind the fruit cage for a couple of years and then use.
The builders bag (like a woven geo membrane) lets the air and water in and out as does the cardboard.
If possible gather the leaves when wet as they are easier to handle when wet. Dry leaves are a pain to wet, add a few drops of detergent to the watering can to help wetting.
 
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2 main points are water and air. Wet the ground, add a layer of leaves about 6 inches and wet that, add another and wet that and so on. The work of turning can be eased by the use of cheap thinwall pvc pipe or the black abs perforated drainage pipe under the pile through the middle for oxygen. The process is oxidation oriented and so needs oxygen. A pile needs to be about a cubic yard to get hot, but smaller ones will rot down cold. They are never that sanitary anyway unless you really get the temps up. Even so 140 is pasteurized and only big piles can get close.

A cubic yard of compost will take many times that size in full size leaves to start. It will really shrink a lot. Ambient air temps are your friend, cold is slower unless the pile is big enough to heat up as the various waves of bacteria move through it. As to fungal and this and that, no worries as the leaves are food enough for the bacteria to start since all the plant goodies are in the leaves and the bark. Just make sure you serve something to drink with their meal. You can loosely cover it if its real cold to try and trap heat from leaving up top.

Sometimes I get a small pile that goes cold. Maybe I used some or certain times of year there is not as much material dropping from the trees and plants. I have been known to mix a gallon of ammonia into a 5 gallon bucket of water and boost the pile with it. Farmers ammonia without water is NH3. Mixed with water it becomes NH4OH (Because H2O+NH3). Everything is used. You brought the leaves (C) So there is the start, COH the primary nutrients. Ammonia is a little more than 80% N so it can burn or stop a pile from heating if too strong. The N is used by the biodome as it consumes the leaves into compost. Likewise sugar is also useful as a booster. It has a formula too, but no N. I use it sometimes when I have a lot of green like grass clippings and low carbon.
Dang man that was very informative. I was thinking of 4 rebar stakes about 5ft long driven a foot into the ground wrapped with chicken wire then the leaves in the middle. I have it all on hand and it should let a good amount of air into the pile. I also have that perforated drainage pipe on hand as well. So you're saying to just kinda later it through the leaf pile as I build it up? It'll be a pretty big pile. I've got about 13 of those big brown home depot bags full. I guess I need to get a thermometer for checking the temps in the pile. I thought it was just a cold process. Thanks again for all the info. I'll be referring back to this I bet.
 
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I use builders dumpy bags with a sheet of cardboard over the top, stick them behind the fruit cage for a couple of years and then use.
The builders bag (like a woven geo membrane) lets the air and water in and out as does the cardboard.
If possible gather the leaves when wet as they are easier to handle when wet. Dry leaves are a pain to wet, add a few drops of detergent to the watering can to help wetting.
Thank you. I thought it was going to suck dealing with all these wet leaves today. It's been raining for 24 hours. But I can see why they would be better. Maybe heavier but they won't be blowing around everywhere.
 
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I use about six or eight feet of chicken wire joined at the ends to make a cylinder into which I dump the leaves, pressing them down, then I just leave them. After about a year they have dropped to about a third to a quarter of the initial amount and I tip it up and use it from the bottom. There will be some on the outside and on top which don't rot, they go into the next lot. As they are in contact with the ground worms get into them, and the wire mesh allows air and rain to get to them. I have enough jobs to do without making it complicated, and plenty of leaves so there are always some ready.

PS I pick them up wet with a wire rake, or dry with the mower. With the mower I usually get a few grass cuttings in there as well, so that damps them.
 
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I was thinking of 4 rebar stakes about 5ft long driven a foot into the ground wrapped with chicken wire then the leaves in the middle.
I used to do this, but found if you press the leaves down hard you don't need the stakes. The leaves push the wire out into a circle and as soon as you have more than a few inches, wet, they hold it down okay.
 
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And if you want them to decompose much faster just pour old stale beer, cokes etc over them. Molasses is the best thing to use but any liquid carbohydrate works.
 
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Just wanted to update you guys. With all the great advice I got it went great today. I'll give you a quick run down.

Firstly I have to say material wise everything was found between my house and my neighbors house and there was just enough of every single item to make this work. The fencing I found this summer buried in my grass. It's the reason my mower is down right now. A few of the wires somehow began sticking up and they got caught up in the spinning blades of the mower. The vast majority of it was buried pretty good though, so once I started pulling it up I couldn't stop. By the middle of it I thought I was going to have to get my truck and pull. But it came up and it ended up coming in handy.
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I didn't think I needed to explain much, the pictures pretty much capture the process. I watered every bag I dumped in and smashed it down with that shovel. I'm really happy with it. I'll prob do like you guys said and dump some microbe food on there. From what you said sugars are good. I was wondering about something. We use a French press coffee maker and everyday I dump the remaining coffee and grounds into a Tupperware and put the lid on. It takes a few days to fill up and when it does I dump it on the compost. Liquid and all. By that time the liquid has gotten thicker. Bc I seal the Tupperware is that creating an anaerobic condition? Could I dump that on my leaves?
 
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There seems to be a mix up here. The original post was asking about leaf mold and he's getting advice about making compost, they are two different processes. Leaf mold is a long slow cold fungal process which only needs damp leaves to sit for a long time whereas compost involves using leaves, a Nitrogen source and a bacterial source to heat up the pile. I use finished compost on all my new piles which are damp and nice and fluffy and will heat up to 150° within 3 days and then get turned again once the pile has cooled down. So now the OP is talking about adding coffee grounds and aerating the pile in a cage so we are now back to compost again. Both work well, I would use that cage set up for compost and just make piles elsewhere for your leaf mold. Here's my compost piles, I generally have two of them going depending on how many grass clippings I get.
compost pile.JPG
 
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There seems to be a mix up here. The original post was asking about leaf mold and he's getting advice about making compost, they are two different processes. Leaf mold is a long slow cold fungal process which only needs damp leaves to sit for a long time whereas compost involves using leaves, a Nitrogen source and a bacterial source to heat up the pile. I use finished compost on all my new piles which are damp and nice and fluffy and will heat up to 150° within 3 days and then get turned again once the pile has cooled down. So now the OP is talking about adding coffee grounds and aerating the pile in a cage so we are now back to compost again. Both work well, I would use that cage set up for compost and just make piles elsewhere for your leaf mold. Here's my compost piles, I generally have two of them going depending on how many grass clippings I get.View attachment 93639
Technically yeah the decomposers come to a plain wet pile of leaves. Practically I do not see a difference in my piles of leaves except speed. The fastest decomposer I have out there are asian worms. If it is warm they can drop a pile of mulched leaves in a month.
 

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